On 24 November 2016, the Colombian Government and the former FARC guerrilla group signed a peace agreement that brought to an end a decades-long bloody conflict. Five years on, the record is mixed. The agreement has been successfully implemented in part, for instance thanks to the reintegration of former combatants. However, challenges do remain, for example when it comes to dealing with illegal violent actors. Today’s meeting between Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his Colombian counterpart and Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez focused on, among other things, the peace process’ state of implementation. Other important topics on their agenda were the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, human rights issues and the crisis in Venezuela.
German support for the Colombian peace process
Germany is supporting the peace process in a number of ways. The Federal Foreign Office alone is providing more than five million euro annually to projects in the areas of crisis prevention, stabilisation and peacebuilding. The profile of Germany’s engagement in the sphere of peace policy was significantly raised by the establishment of the German-Colombian Peace Institute, or CAPAZ, in 2016. The institute aids the peace process through scientific support and political consultancy work. Its efforts focus on social reconciliation, strengthening the rule of law and conflict prevention. CAPAZ forges connections between higher education institutions, governmental agencies and civil-society organisations and conducts public events and seminars, some of which are also held in the conflict regions themselves.
Nobody is safe until everybody is safe
Germany opted early on to focus on finding joint responses to the global pandemic caused by this still virulent virus in a spirit of solidarity. This is why Germany last year helped found the Country Coordinating Mechanism Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). Germany is the mechanism’s second-largest donor, with contributions totalling 2.2 billion euro so far.
Most of this sum is going to the international vaccine platform COVAX, through which more than 440 million doses of vaccine have been delivered so far. In addition to this financial support, Germany is donating at least 175 million doses of vaccine, 100 million of which will still be provided this year. They are mainly being delivered through COVAX. Colombia, too, will soon receive more than 2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Campaigning for equal opportunities in society – the women’s network Unidas
Equal opportunity, too, has a role to play in stabilising societies. Particularly in a crisis context, stronger political ownership by women is a key factor. This is one of the main ideas behind the women’s network Unidas that was established under the patronage of Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in 2019. Colombia has one of the strongest national chapters of the Unidas network. It brings together women from Germany and Latin America and the Caribbean who are campaigning for equal opportunities in society, and it currently has 240 members – 28 of which are in Colombia. A national meeting of the network is planned for this year in Bogotá, with a view to intensifying this exchange.